Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Peace of God Which Surpasses All Understanding...

When we remember, we leave the present for the past. To say it better, we bring the past into the present and give it life alongside the tangible realities we are compelled to consider. In our memory of a loved one we choose to relate to him/her even though, since he is not present, we need not relate to him. Not physical presence but love leads us to live with this remembered person even in her absence. When the love is strong, the memory of this absent person may be more dear and more real than the reality of those who are present. Memory is sometimes the difference between life and death, between hope and despair, between strength for another day and the collapse of all meaning. Our memory of another confers the present upon him, gives him further life in our life, and keeps a moment of the past from drifting away or fading into death. We are fed and nourished by communion of life in which two lives intersect in memory and merge into common experience. No lover forgets. No beloved is forgotten. The memory of love is life; the memory of another becomes our selves.

Pentecost was God’s coming to strengthen the fidelity of a community to the memory of Jesus…The memory of Jesus is now preserved in the Spirit and through a community’s faith, with all the attendant mysteries of bread and wine, revelation and tradition. So when the communion of believers remembers Jesus, when the bride is alive with the thought of her Spouse, Christ is present. Jesus is brought into the present with his grace by the force of memory in the power of the Spirit…The gift of the Sprit is fidelity to the memory of life’s mystery and confidence in the mystery of its future.  (Anthony Padovano, Dawn without Darkness)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

“Who Touched My Garment?”

In Mark Mark 5:21-43 we are reminded that only in admitting our vulnerability are we able to receive help, and only by owning our moments of desperation are we willing to try something out of the ordinary, discover the courage to be and act differently. So perhaps admitting need isn't the end of the world we think it may be, but just the end of the world we've constructed (or had forced upon us). And as the world of self-imposed or culturally cultivated perfection crumbles around us, we're invited to enter a new world of mutual regard, acceptance, and inter-dependence. And we can start to describe that world, even name it the kingdom of God.

And...Maybe we can pledge – right now – to become the kind of community that accepts limitation and honors vulnerability. In this way we can perhaps move toward being the kind of safe place and caring community where we can come as we are rather than keep pretending to be the person we think others want us to be.  (David Lose, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

When shall we become Christians?

We shall become Christians on that day when sunshine means more to us than a further acquisition.  We shall become Christians on that day when the children of the world excite us at least as much as its rulers.  We shall become Christians on that day when we use our hearts to measure the worth of a  human being, on that day when greed or pride do not lead us to friendship but only to love.  We shall become Christians when we are joyful because so many people are in love rather than because so many people are affluent.  We shall become Christians when we learn to make music and poetry, to make love and peace, to make Jesus human and to make ourselves as human as He was.  We shall become Christians when the sight of the sea makes us dance more joyously than the purchase of a new car.  We shall become Christians when we allow Jesus to speak to us by His values as well as by his words.  We shall become Christians on that morning when we laugh and sing for the right reasons and when we weep not because we have lost something but because we were given so much.               

Anthony Padovano, “Dawn Without Darkness”

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Who is this, that even raging, life-threatening circumstances do not disturb his sleep?

In our Gospel reading
Mark 4:35-41 
A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?"

The real question to ask of this story is NOT:
Who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

For us, the real question is:
Who is this, that even raging, life-threatening circumstances do not disturb his sleep?

The real miracle of this story is NOT Jesus calming the storm. The real miracle is Jesus' calm while the storm is raging. His calm is not simply the suppression of fear. His calm arises from his faith within; from his trust in God's caring - no matter what the actual circumstances.

Thus, the moral of this story is NOT: run to Jesus when you are in a crisis and he will make the storm go away. Rather the moral is: run to Jesus when you are in crisis and learn from him the source of his calm. (Holy Textures, David Ewart)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What God Does When We're Not Looking

Mark4:26-34 emphasizes the hidden and smallness of the quiet beginnings of the kingdom and also underscores the sense in which the sower does not make the kingdom happen by force of will; indeed the sower of the parable doesn't even water or weed! The sower just sows and then sleeps and rises night and day, and the earth produces of itself, and the mustard plant puts forth its large branches. The kingdom grows organically. And inevitably, as day follows night, God's hidden, mysterious work in the world and in us will be fruitful

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Do You Have to be a Little Crazy to Preach the Gospel?

In our readings Mark (Mark 3:20-35) reveals that Jesus is precisely what the religious authorities don't expect. They have no idea what to make of him. He doesn't meet their expectations, and what doesn't fit our expectations we typically label abnormal, or deviant, or crazy, or possessed. They are “outsiders.” We assume that what we know and have experienced becomes the standard by which we measure – and judge – the thoughts and actions of others.

Religion was established to regulate our relationship with God. The root of the word itself comes from the Latin ligare, to bind, which supplies the roots of the words "ligament" (tissue that binds together) and "obligation" (the duties to which one is bound). Religion, then, most often serves to connect us again to God by specifying what actions, duties, and obligations we should undertake out of reverence to God. On one level there's something absolutely right about this. Religion offers us a way to structure our thinking about God and relationship with God. It gives us forms by which to express our grateful response to all of God's activity. The trouble arises, however, when we allow our religion to become a substitute for a genuine, living relationship with God. We do this when we use religion not just to offer structures that facilitate our relationship, but actually to manage and control that relationship or, worse, to manage and control God.

This is why Jesus sets himself against all the powers that would rob humanity and creation of the abundant life God intends – whether those powers be unclean spirits; disease that ravages the mind, body or spirit; illness that isolates and separates those who suffer from community; or whatever. Jesus introduces a new vision of God and a new way to relate to God...and it's not what any of those…make that any of us – religious folk would expect. (David Lose, Marbury E. Anderson Biblical Preaching Chair, Luther Seminary St. Paul, MN)